Ben Kiernan is best known for his scholarly work on Cambodia and in the field of genocide studies. However, his deep, long-term engagement with Vietnamese studies, in its broadest and most interdisciplinary sense—through his students, his colleagues, and his own travels, wide reading, and research on Vietnam—comes through on every page of this book. Perhaps because of his thorough grounding in the study of peoples, such as the Cham and Khmer, who are usually mere extended footnotes in works on the history of Vietnam, Kiernan's presentation of Vietnam's history is unusual.

Every other history of the geographic space that is now the Socialist Republic of Vietnam that I know of, in English, French, or Vietnamese, starts in the north. In contrast, the very first sentence of the introduction to Việt Nam: A History from Earliest Times to the Present is a quote from a southern Vietnamese scholar writing in 1820...

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